Public Safety Bolstered Under Obama's Budget

The White House seeks $290 million for the Justice Department's COPS Program.
by | February 13, 2012

The Obama Adminstration's fiscal year 2013 budget proposal released Monday requests $27.1 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ), down roughly 15 percent from fiscal year 2012. Much of President Barack Obama’s $3.8 trillion request is aimed at spending less except for public safety.

The president’s DOJ budget request seeks $290 million – up from $183 million last year -- for the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) Program, which pays for state and local law enforcement agencies to hire police officers. Departments that hire post-Sept. 11 veterans would be given priority for the grants. Last year, police departments around the country continued laying off officers or imposing hiring freezes to cope with reduced budgets. At least four major cities, including Trenton, N.J., cut 10 percent of their police forces last year.

Among Obama’s many requests of Congress is to spend significantly more this year on employing cops and firefighters. Under Obama’s proposal, the COPS program would provide $15 million to train more cops in community policing, $20 million for Native American law enforcement agencies, and $12 million to help curb the production of methamphetamine – a growing problem for many communities, especially in the Midwest.

The administration is proposing nearly $40 million to identify and defeat intellectual property criminals, an increase of $5 million over FY 12. And it preserves funding for several cybersecurity and counterterrorism efforts, such as the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative in which state and local stakeholders are involved.

Local domestic enforcement programs took a huge hit during the recession and many states struggled to provide the same level of services. Obama wants to set aside $413 million to reduce violence against women, and $153 million for state and local programs to relieve the burden on local corrections systems such as prisoner re-entry programs and mental health courts.

The budget request also includes $100 million for the DNA Initiative to increase the use of forensic DNA technology and provide grants, training and technical assistance to state and local governments.

Obama also proposes $312 million -- $25 million less than he proposed last year -- to help states’ run their juvenile justice programs. He would eliminate some funding for victims of child abuse, training judicial personnel to identify child abuse, and missing and exploited children; but nearly double funding for other juvenile justice programs and grants.

The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program, which directs resources to high-risk neighborhoods, would receive $20 million under the president’s proposal.

With the presidential race dominating most of the political arena this year though, it’s unlikely that a final budget will be passed before a lame duck session after the November elections, according to the AP.


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